Dining

The Best Desserts in Chicago Right Now

5 Windy City treats that are blowing away the competition
Photo: Hugh Galdones

Dessert doesn't have to be an afterthought when dining out. Just ask chef Alex Stupak, who was previously the pastry chef at Chicago's own Alinea. "Pastry chefs are working harder than ever," he wrote in a recent op-ed that seemed to refute critic Pete Wells's anti-ice cream sundae sentiment. If you’re eating somewhere with a dedicated pastry chef and skipping dessert, you’re not experiencing the restaurant in its total capacity, and Chicago has its fair share of skilled pastry chefs. Avoid any regret and leave room for these inventive Windy City creations.

Foie Gras Ice Cream Sandwich, Band of Bohemia 

This Michelin-starred brewpub stays true to its roots by incorporating rye and yeast into the cookie part of this ice cream sandwich designed to pair with any beer on tap. Everything is made in-house, including the bed of sprinkles it arrives on, flavored with (and colored by) beet, spirulina, vanilla honey, passion fruit, charcoal and carrot. Pastry chef George Kovach and his team found the inspiration for this gem in the history of their building: It was once an Oreo cookie factory. 

Photo: Erin Hall

Valrhona Chocolate Grand Macaron, Margeaux Brasserie

It’s rare to find a dessert that tastes as good as it looks on Instagram. However, pastry chef Ashley Torto has created just that with an oversize macaron stuffed with raspberry, milk chocolate mousse and whipped cream. You'll find it at Margeaux Brasserie inside the Waldorf Astoria Chicago, where it’s finished tableside with a drizzle of warm chocolate sauce.

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Halo-Halo, Gideon Sweet

Pastry chef Mari Katsumura offers a take on the traditional Filipino dessert made with taro to diners who prefer a fruity way to satiate a sweet tooth. Her creation includes the purple sweet potato itself, okinawa sugar gels, shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweet beans, coconut, agar jelly and tropical fruit. The final product is like a parfait version of kakigōri, a Japanese shaved ice dessert.

 

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Yuzu Cheesecake, 
City Mouse

Angela Diaz is the pastry chef on duty, and none of her many excellent desserts stands out more than her cheesecake made with yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit with a sour flavor profile, as the main ingredient in the cream filling. The sweet-tangy mix is served on a brown-butter crust and topped with a Concord grape and tapioca jam. 

Salted Egg Yolk Snickerdoodle, The Bakery at Fat Rice

Pastry chef Elaine Townsend showcases her talents with an array of unique sweets like miso fudge brownies, ube milk bars and Portuguese egg tarts. But if you have room for only one item, go for a salted egg yolk snickerdoodle. After curing and grating egg yolks into a ball that's nested into snickerdoodle dough, the cookie is rolled in Ceylon black tea before baking. It’s a unique blend of sweet and savory that’s hard to find in a cookie.

Photo: The Bakery at Fat Rice

Ximena N. Larkin is a writer and communication strategist based in Chicago. Find her at @XimenaLarkin on Instagram and Twitter. 

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